Fruit Snacks: Are They Healthy? by Toby Amidor in Back to School, Is it Healthy?, August 28, 2012
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My three kids go gaga over fruit snacks—and they’re not the only ones. You can find them at the movies (in the kids snack pack), in birthday party goodie bags and in school snack or lunch bags. But are these chewy goodies good for our kiddos or just too good to be true?
Fruit snacks run around 80-90 calories per small pouch—which is a reasonable amount of calories for a kids’ snack. They’re free of fat, cholesterol and are very low in sodium. Many also provide vitamins A and C.
S-U-G-A-R….these sticky fruit snacks have around 5 teaspoons of added sugar per pouch. Many also contain small amounts of partially hydrogenated oils—another name for artery-clogging trans-fat! There’s also no protein, healthy fat or fiber to make it a satisfying snack—meaning, your little ones will be hungry soon after munching a pack (or two).
If you read the ingredient lists, many fruit snacks are made from food coloring and dyes – including yellow 40, red 5, and blue 1, which has been linked to behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children.
Last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a complaint against General Mills for deceptive marketing practices for their Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll Ups and other such products. CSPI specifically claims that the claims “naturally flavored,” “good source of vitamin C ”and“ low fat” portrays a message that this is a healthy snack when it actually contains high amounts of sugar, not many nutrients, partially hydrogenated oils, and possibly harmful food dyes.
In August 2012, CSPI also threatened Welches with a lawsuit unless they stop making health claims on their products including fruit snacks. Claims on fruit snacks include that they’re made from “real fruit,” but in reality these snacks are mostly made from fruit juice concentrates.
The Verdict: If you’re looking to give your kids a well-balanced snack with plenty of vitamins A and C, choose REAL fruit instead (you’ll also get fiber and potassium). Most fruit snacks are nothing more than sugar and dyes—it’s right there in the ingredient list. If you’re looking to give your kiddos a healthy fruit snack, you can easily make your own using 5 ingredients.
TELL US: What’s your take on fruit snacks?